The French word pâte is very familiar to me. I buy it in the supermarkets to cook tarts, quiches, pizzas, pies, and it’s used for a variety of pre-baked pastries. There are a bunch of variations: pâte brisée, pâte sablé, pâte pizza, pâte feuilletée etc. But for some bizarre reason I could never think of what the translation for this word was. It seemed obvious, right on the tip of my tongue, something I should know, being as obsessed with food as I am – I mean, it’s the only thing I can talk about fluently in the French language.
I figured out what it is today. Very simple, though I’m ashamed to admit it – dough. Pâte = dough.
It’s 30°C today. For those of you not on the Celsius system 30°C is 86°F, is 303.15 Kelvin. A good day to go to the beach, which I did yesterday when it was a mere 28°C. Today, being hotter, I decided to spend some time with my favorite type of pâte and bake. Real smart.
I should rephrase that. I didn’t decide to bake, I volunteered. The English school I’m working for is throwing a party on Tuesday. A party that will feature me in a short nightgown, heels and a boa. But that’s beside the point. Seeing as how we may have around 50 people, the party-organizers were worried about food. So I volunteered to make 100 cookies.
Of course, most smart people would make 100 cookies of the same kind – like chocolate chip. Right? Well, I can’t do that. Call it stupidity, call it over thinking, call it over achieving, I decided to make 5 different types of cookies, all variations on chocolate chip:
- chocolate chip
- peanut-butter chocolate chip
- white and dark chocolate
- Nutella pinwheels
- white chocolate and coconut
Hey, how often do the French get good, chewy cookies? The answer is never. Obviously I love French cuisine, but they haven’t mastered the cookie. They make hard, flat things with pépites de choco – disgusting tiny chips that are a sorry excuse for chocolate.
I started at 10 and finished at 3. My kitchen started out like this:
By the second batch of cookies – the peanut butter ones – it looked like this:
If you’re wondering about the hammer, it’s what I use to smash up the chocolate bars.
And who doesn’t love raw cookie dough?
There was a break for lunch. By the time I was done with the last batch of cookies, the dough was starting to look strange to me (like a word does if you stare at it for too long) and I was doped up on sugar and sugar fumes.
The hardest were the Nutella Pinwheels, which are honestly a pain because cookie dough was not meant to be rolled and sliced. But I got them done, and they look lovely.
Now the question remains: how does one transport 100 cookies? Seriously. Do I put them all in a bowl? Do I keep them separate so that the flavors don’t taint each other? Do I wrap them on plates and carrying them through the streets of Toulon, my skirt swinging along around my legs like some lost waitress? Where should I store them? Is there room in my fridge? I should have thought of these things BEFORE I volunteered to make the cookies.
For the rest of the afternoon, I will sit in the shade, wisely like my cat. A fresh salad awaits me for dinner, because if I have one more piece of refined sugar, I might take off and soar back to the U.S.
Another thing I’ll be doing – never looking at another bit of pâte n’importe de quoi for at least a week.